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The Headscarf ControversySecularism and Freedom of Religion$
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Hilal Elver

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769292

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199769292.001.0001

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The Role of the European Court of Human Rights

The Role of the European Court of Human Rights

(p.72) 4 The Role of the European Court of Human Rights
The Headscarf Controversy

Hilal Elver

Oxford University Press

In national and international courts, cases concerning freedom of religion and religious symbols raise critical questions about the limits of religious freedom in the increasingly diverse societies of the West, within the European Union and beyond. On the one hand, these cases signify a growing tension between cultural extension and the legal enforcement of human rights, including freedom of religion and belief. The cases, especially in Europe, also disclose “the growth of pan-European legal discourse of religious symbols not only as text, but as a mechanism, however broad and ambiguous, of social control.” Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, (ECHR) in such cases illustrate the pertinence of such a statement. International lawyers generally regard the European human rights system as the “most effective and advanced” supranational human rights regime in the world. This chapter deals with the pivotal role of the European Human Rights Court. Starting from case against Turkey, several headscarf cases against various members of the European Convention on Human Rights that upholding national bans on headscarf will be discussed and evaluated comparatively to reach jurisprudential underpinning of such cases.

Keywords:   freedom of religion in the european convention of human rights, dahlab v. switizerland, leyla sahin v. turkey, margin of appreciation, dogru v. france and kervanci v. france, el morsli v. france, the sikh turban cases, cross cultural influences of the courts

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